Nothing worse than waiting to hear about your novel. I thought it would get easier, knowing that at least my manuscript would PROBABLY be read by my agent and publisher at least, but it’s worse: after all if they don’t take “emptiness”, I’m back to square one, which is a more terrible place to be when one has travelled a couple of squares down the board.
I should be using this time wisely; writing short stories, that radio play, getting on with novel #4 (or 5, if you count that comedy novel, as I insist on doing). Instead I watch “The Sopranos” (last night reached the end of series 5), look at houses online, go for long walks nowhere.
It’s hard even to read; for months I’ve picked up David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” only to put it down again. The only fiction I’ve managed this year has been “Confessions of Dan Yack” by Blaise Cendrars, an amazing little book which has a character rather like Marielle in “emptiness”: a young orphan-like girl called Mireille. They spend a lot of time in Paris, as in my book, and there are other similarities too – but enough of that...
The other book I’m enjoying is non-fiction, Orwell’s Collected Essays (1920-40). As I read each mini-masterpiece (The Spike; A Hanging; Hop-picking); I wonder where he’d place his journalism now. In those austere days there were all these little magazines like Adelphi; now, your options are far more limited. The supplements want glossy lifestyle pieces and have neither money nor appetite for long, complex undercover work; the New Statesman is a shadow, irrelevant and dull.
Currently I’m waiting on The Times to publish two features, one on mobile phones, the other on Finland; the former I’ve been waiting on for several months. Meanwhile The Spectator asked for a piece on spec; against my usual policy I agreed and worked on a piece. My “contact” there said he liked it and would suggest they use it; this was a month ago and he hasn’t got back. How on earth are you supposed to make a living from journalism?
Maybe it’s just bad luck, bad timing on my part; my two chosen professions, journalism and fiction, are being decimated by the internet and there seems to be nothing anyone can do about it.
Except grumble, maybe? That at least I can do...